Country Fired Chicken with Pepper Gravy

What do you do when you get home from a luau featuring a limbo contest and a surf-thrash band?

Make a batch of country-fried chicken and a side of pepper gravy is what you do!

That's what I did anyway.

I've been out and about in Austin lately feeling out the music scene in search of some like-minded musicians. Saturday was one of those nights. After a couple hours hanging with the head-banging beach crowd at Hole in the Wall club near the UT campus I decided it was time to get home and make a snack. I had eaten a huge breakfast plate for what normal people consider a late lunch/early dinner in the afternoon and wasn't really hungry before heading to the luau. By midnight I was ready for some grub.

I was planning to save the majority of the chicken for lunch the next day and just have a couple strips for a late night snack to tide me over until morning. After sampling a strip dipped in the gravy I couldn't resist though and just kept going back – I was like a moth to a flame. All told, I destroyed six of the 10 strips I made and a good amount of the pepper gravy.

There are two keys to making this dish.

Great breading and tasty gravy.

Knowing how to whip up a gravy as a side compliment to the main event is really the difference between putting out good food and great food. It takes a minimal amount of practice and adds some heavy artillery to any cook's culinary arsenal. Here it was key. The breading on the chicken was just how it was supposed to be, but the gravy, Oooooh that gravy! Peppery, garlicy and absolutely the bomb – that's what kept me going back.

Surf-thrash, limbo and country fried chicken with ridiculous pepper gravy. Not the perfect Saturday night, but a good one none the less.

Eat well, cook often ...

2 Chicken breast, cut into even strips
2 C Buttermilk
1/2 Onion, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbs AP flour
2 C milk
1 Tbs fresh crack black pepper
2 eggs
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs Hot sauce
1 1/2 C AP flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Oil for frying

In a large bowl submerge chicken in buttermilk, cover and place in refrigerator. Let marinate at least one hour.

In a small pan over medium heat, saute onion in melted butter until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic, cook one minute, or until fragrant. Stir in flour until completely absorbed by butter. Let cook three minutes or until slightly brown in color. Stir in milk. Bring to a boil and let thicken. Remove from heat and keep warm until serving.

In a large pot heat enough oil to submerge chicken strips to 350°.

While oil is coming to temperature set up breading stations. In one pan or bowl beat together eggs, water and hot sauce. In a second pan or bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk and let drain. Coat in egg mixture then dredge in flour until completely coated. Place in oil until cooked through and golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from oil and drain.

Serve chicken with gravy for dipping.

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